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The media has been urged to report responsibly and sensitively on children’s issues to avoid violation of their rights.

Speaking at a one-day workshop on child friendly reporting which was held in Harare on Tuesday, Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children national director Reverend Taylor Nyanhete said the media should desist from portraying children as victims, but victors.

“From our observations of the media for the past six months we have managed to reveal that children are portrayed as victims with very few positive reports of children,” he said.

“In our media watch quarterly report of the January-March 2014 period, we only recorded two positive reports on children with the majority of the reports portraying children as victims, and we say this should improve.”

Rev Nyanhete said the main aspects put on the limelight by the media were among others infanticide, sexual abuse, sodomy, paedophilia and child labour.

Speaking at the same workshop Zimbabwe Human Rights Commissioner Elasto Mugwadi said it was everyone’s responsibility to protect children from abuse.

“The responsibility to protect and promote human rights which includes the rights of children lies with everybody in society but however, the primary responsibility lies with the state,” he said.

He called on government to come up with policies that protect the rights of children.

“The state must adopt reasonable policies and measures to ensure that in matters relating to children, the best interests of the children concerned are paramount,” he said.

A representative from Zimbabwe Media Commission, Mr Academy Chinhamhora said the commission was yet to come up with guidelines for the local media on reporting on children’s issues.

“We are currently working on a code of conduct to guide the media on reporting on children’s issues so that the rights of children are not violated,” he said.

He urged media organisations to come up with a specialist desk that deals with issues to do with children.

“Media organisations should come up with a specialist desk that covers and reports on children’s issues so that their stories are heard,” Mr Chinhamhora said.

The workshop which was organised by the ZNCWC was attended by more than 30 participants drawn from various civic and media organisations.

Children and the youth make up 70 percent (9, 7 million) of the Zimbabwean population, according to national statistics.

Source : The Herald